International Experience Canada (IEC) is the Government of Canada’s flagship youth mobility program, facilitating work and travel opportunities for thousands of Canadian and foreign youth each year. Although Canadian citizens enjoy passports that provide visa-free access to many countries around the world, most do not allow easy access to labour markets, making it difficult to obtain international work experience without specialized, in-demand skills. Through the negotiation of youth mobility arrangements, IEC facilitates international work experience opportunities for youth aged 18-35 in partner countries and territories around the world.
Originating in 1951 as a cultural youth exchange initiative following World War II, the program now has more than 30 active youth mobility arrangements with country and territory partners across Europe, East Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. Its primary objectives include building the global competencies of Canadian and foreign national youth, and leveraging youth mobility arrangements as a strategic tool in diplomatic relations to strengthen global relationships.
IEC has three program streams through which foreign youth may work and travel in Canada:
The working holiday stream facilitates work and travel through an open work permit that allows foreign youth to work for virtually any employer in any location in Canada
The international co-op and young professionals’ streams facilitate internships and professional work experience through employer-specific work permits.
Similarly, Canadian youth can access a variety of work-travel program streams in partner countries and territories. Access to specific work permit streams depends on the negotiated arrangement between Canada and each of its partners.
As a Recognized Organization (RO) of IEC, GO International has been designated a partner in raising awareness and providing support services to foreign national and Canadian youth.
The Government of Canada works with key stakeholders like GO International in Canada and abroad to raise awareness of the program, promote the benefits of international experience, and to equip Canadian youth with information to successfully embark on international work and travel experiences through IEC.